HMB-45 staining for cytology of primary melanoma of the vagina. A case report

Acta Cytol. 2000 Nov-Dec;44(6):1077-80. doi: 10.1159/000328601.


Background: Malignant melanoma in the vagina is very rare, but its diagnosis is usually easy if a melanin pigment is present. With cytodiagnosis, however, it is difficult to differentiate amelanotic melanoma or scantily pigmented melanoma from other conditions. In the present case, monoclonal antibody HMB-45, the efficacy of which has been established in histologic studies, was used in the cytodiagnosis of amelanotic melanoma in the vagina.

Case: A woman, aged 78 years, presented with a brownish, nodular tumor, diameter 3 cm, in the vagina. Scraping smears with Papanicolaou staining showed nonepithelial malignant cells without granules suggesting melanin. Smears stained with HMB-45 showed positive immunoreactivity. The diagnosis underwent histologic confirmation of amelanotic melanoma on the initial biopsy.

Conclusion: Cytodiagnosis was made with HMB-45, which proved very effective in the differential cytodiagnosis of amelanotic melanoma and scantily pigmented melanoma, particularly because it obviated the need for tissue invasion.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Melanoma / metabolism*
  • Melanoma / pathology
  • Melanoma-Specific Antigens
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism*
  • Vaginal Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Vaginal Neoplasms / pathology


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Melanoma-Specific Antigens
  • Neoplasm Proteins